Call to worship
Psalm 98 Responsive from Uniting in Worship
Hymn Together in Song 217 Love divine, all loves excelling
Prayers of Adoration and Confession
We give you thanks and praise for all your wonderful gifts to us.
We thank you for the rain which refreshes and brings life to the earth.
It provides us with the water we need to survive, and reminds us of the wonderful ways you have used to show yourself to your people throughout time.
You brought the nation of Israel to birth as your people through the waters of the Red Sea. In the waters of the Jordan, Jesus showed his solidarity with us by being baptised as a sinner – and was shown by your word and spirit to be your son. In the waters of our baptism you brought us to birth as your children.
We thank you for the sun which shines on the earth – giving warmth and light and life. It reminds us of the warmth and light of your love, and the life you have given us in Jesus.
We thank you for the wind which we can’t see, but which as the power to move things and generate energy, reminding us of your Spirit’s unseen but powerful presence.
And today we thank you for mothers – for those good mothers whose love is a reminder of your love for us. We thank you for those people who have acted as good mothers towards us in varying stages of our lives, showing us love and care when we have needed it.
We confess that we have not been worthy of your gifts to us.
We are human and share the failings of all humanity.
In creating us, you gave us free will, and we have not always chosen the best use of our will. We have not always loved you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We have not always loved our neighbours as ourselves.
We have no excuse for our failings, and we cannot overcome them for ourselves. We give you thanks that in Jesus, you gave us the means for our failures to be forgiven and our lives to be renewed.
In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness
Like a mother bird caring for her chicks, God stretches out his wings to cover us and keep us safe. Whatever we have done, and wherever we have been, God, in Jesus, calls us home to safety.
So I have confidence to say to you: “Our sins are forgiven.”
Thanks be to God!
Hymn Together in Song 229 Jesus loves me, this I know
1 John 5:1-6
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
I wonder if you’ve ever had trouble trying to find the right word to say what you want to say? I often do – but that’s called brain fog. At other times, the problem is that there just doesn’t seem to be a word that exactly covers what I want to say. I think the people who translated the Gospel reading had this problem. (Not brain fog – the issue of just not finding the exact word.) They’ve used a word in English that just doesn’t say all that the Greek does.
When Jesus says “You are my friends”, the word is actually much stronger than “friends”. What the original word used means is more like “you are the ones I love”. That’s more than a friend – perhaps that’s a best friend (or maybe even better than best friend.)
Today I want us to think about what it is to be best friends with Jesus. There’s a song by New Zealand band The Lads, “My Best Friend’s the Creator of the Universe.” (I don’t know how to get a recording of that on our screen here in church – but if you check the worship services website, I’ll put a link to it on You Tube if you’re interested.)
Having God as “best friend” seems pretty impressive – but that is exactly what Jesus is inviting us all to in this passage from John’s gospel.
Children usually know what it is to have a “best friend”. I think adults might sometimes lose the importance of that one, best, closest friend.
You can go out and have fun with any of your friends. You can enjoy being with any of your friends. But there are some things you need a best friend for.
A best friend is someone you can confide in – someone who will keep all your secrets and never embarrass you. With a best friend, you’re free to be yourself – warts and all – and you know that you’ll always be accepted. When you’re in trouble, it’s your best friend you go to for help and you know they’ll always find a way to get you the help you need.
Best friends stand by each other, no matter how difficult the going gets. Jesus goes so far to say that a really best friend would be willing to die for his or her friends. Jesus didn’t just say it – he did it. This wasn’t just talk about some ideal. Jesus is the best friend any of us can have.
When you have a best friend, you’re never alone. You’ve always got someone to share the really good times, and the really bad times, and all the in-between times, with. Your friend knows you inside out – and you know your friend inside out – even though you don’t agree with each other all the time, you’re always willing to accept the differences and forgive the mistakes.
A best friend will understand you when no-one else does.
Jesus says, you’re not my servants; you’re my friends, best friends. And he proves his friendship by giving up his life, to cover for our mistakes and misdeeds. He proves his friendship by promising to be with us always, even when every other friend gives up. He is the one who understands us, better than anyone else, who is always there to support us, and will always forgive us. It’s Jesus we can always turn to no matter how bad the mess we get ourselves into.
Jesus says, you’re not my servants; you’re my friends, best friends. And what do we answer? After all, friendship’s a two-way street. It’s our choice. Will we be his best friends for him?
Hymn Together in Song 230 It passeth knowledge that dear love of thine
Prayers of the People
You created the world and called it good, and you affirmed your love by sending your Son into the world. Because this is your world, we pray for it, knowing that you always want the best for your creation.
Too often, human beings have treated this world as if it had come about by some lucky chance, as if it didn’t really belong to anyone and we could do what we liked with it. The consequences of our foolishness are seen in the degradation of the soil, the pollution of the waterways, the smogging of the air. Teach us, and all people to look at creation as a wonderful work of art; to marvel at its detail and depth, to stand amazed at its balance and beauty. Help us all, as we gaze upon the work, to grow in our respect and admiration of the artist who created it.
Too often, human beings have treated each other as if some were less important than others, as if the other person was no so much human as ourselves. Even now, in a supposedly enlightened time, there are wars and acts of terrorism going on in the world. Save us from the sinfulness of seeing any human being as worthless.
Teach us, and all people, to see the face of Christ in the other person. In the face of the person who has no dignity, show us the face of the Christ who gave up a heavenly throne to become a human being. In the face of the person suffering, show us the face of the Christ who chose torment and torture for our sake. In the face of the person we don’t agree with or don’t understand, show us the face of the Christ who said and did so many things that people didn’t agree with or didn’t understand. In the face of the person who tells us what we don’t want to hear, show us the face of the Christ who so often told people the truth they did not want to hear.
Too often human beings live as if we were independent creators of our own lives: as if we were self-made people. Teach us, and all people, to see that in our times of greatest weakness, our greatest vulnerability, you are our strength. Help us to rely on you, not on our own resources. Set our feet on the path to true greatness.
In Jesus’ name.
Passing the peace
Hymn Together in Song 538 Feed us now, Bread of life
Service of Holy Communion
Hymn Together in Song 599 Take my life and let it be